Dreaming of a Vetter World comes at a time when interest in farming organically and regenerating soil has exploded worldwide. Others are realizing what the Vetters have known for decades: eating food grown with pesticides is bad for us, and soil is key to our very survival. That’s why, on the Vetter farm, their most important “crop” is the soil.

With camera and camper in tow, filmmaker Bonnie Hawthorne leaves her urban California comforts in the rearview mirror to learn from the Vetters—and others in their Nebraska region—about what’s really going on in the Corn Belt. Her debut feature documentary shares the struggles the Vetters face as “Big Ag”—chemical agriculture—encroaches. Informative yet entertaining, the film features the self-sustaining, self-renewing farm-management experiment Donald and David Vetter created back in the 1970s. As the Vetters try to stay one step ahead of changing weather patterns, market fluctuations, and the ever-increasing pesticide use around them, their experiment to regenerate soil through organic methods continues.

77 minutes. USA. English.

Dreaming of a Vetter World is the movie to watch if you dream of a better food and farming system. We need to replace the industrial-chemical driven monopoly of modern agribusiness. Regenerative organic farmer David Vetter shows how we can farm in nature’s image without unhealthy pesticides and fertilizers that destroy the soil, which Bonnie Hawthorne captures beautifully in her epic documentary. — David Bronner, CEO Dr. Bronner’s

Here is what happens when vision triumphs over industrial agriculture and industrial movie production. Bravo on both counts. — Alan Lewis, Food and Agriculture Policy, Natural Grocers

An insightful and moving portrait of one of the keystone farms in the organic food movement, this film digs deep into the life of a midwestern farm community, revealing just how much is at stake in one family’s courageous campaign to replace chemical farming with a more ecological alternative. — Liz Carlisle, author of The Lentil Underground: Renegade Farmers and the Future of Food in America

It’s a story of exploitation, a story of injustice, and a story about a solution to a multitude of what ails us. I truly want to help audiences SEE the far reaching benefits of what Dave is doing, and the policy solutions to what prevents many more farmers from following in his footsteps. — Melinda Hemmelgarn, M.S., R.D. Host, Food Sleuth Radio

Frequently Asked Questions

Why this film? Why now?
Modern American agriculture is a moving target in a shifting landscape. Really bad ideas continue to roll out in the name of giving farmers more “tools in their toolkit.” Got herbicide resistant weeds from using too much herbicide? Let’s add more herbicide! Meanwhile, the Vetters—who farm with nature rather than in an adversarial relationship to it—have shown in their 40+ year experiment regenerating soil through organic methods that we don’t have to stay on the pesticide treadmill. Theirs is a message that needs to be shared far and wide.

Haven’t there already been a lot of films made about food and agriculture?
Yes. Also, we are currently up to Sharknado 6. If the world can bear six feature films about tornados that rain sharks, it can stand a few thousand documentaries on what is arguably the most important topic of our time. As one farmer put it, “Without food, you don’t have much to hang human civilization on.”

What are you bringing to the this crowded field that’s different?
This film features smart, funny, warm, dedicated people doing what they know is right regardless of whether or not it makes them money. To quote Donald Vetter, “I don’t want to be a braggart and go to town and say I raised 300 bushel of corn on this acre at the expense of the land and of future generations. To me, that’s wrong. And if you think it’s wrong, you don’t do it.”

Who else is in the film?
Fred Kirschenmann, Terra Hall, Denise O’Brien, Theresa Podoll, JJ Granstrom, Edwin Dadey, Bill Whitney, Paul Huenefeld, Darci Vetter, Allison Vetter, Rojean Vetter, Robert Reinke and others.